Can Website Blocking Affect Overall Employee Productivity [Truth or Myth]

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 8th February 2021

Companies cite a multitude of reasons as to why they opt for website blocking software in the workplace. While some of those reasons are entirely valid, others are open to debate. Since the most commonly quoted argument in favor of site filtering is increased efficiency, it’s fair to wonder how website blocking can affect overall employee productivity.

There’s been much debate over the years whether there’s any truth to this claim or if it’s just a myth propagated by overly controlling companies and CEOs. Well, quite a bit of time has passed since the companies first introduced website filtering, and the data is finally in. It would seem that website blocking software does, indeed, increase employee productivity.

It’s still not a black and white issue, and there are a couple of caveats we’ll go over. But the massive body of data does not lie, and it speaks in favor of performing some website blocking at the very least.

In other words, you’d do well to give website blocking a try. Websites such as currentware.com/how-to-block-websites are an excellent place to start learning about browser control.

Now, on to the matter at hand. What exactly did the data show, and what does it mean for you, the employer?

The Most Common Productivity Killers

It comes as no surprise that the number one time-waster is social media. There’s no other source of distraction that’s as potent and harmful as social networks. And there are little to no arguments as to why they shouldn’t be blocked.

Not far behind are eCommerce sites such as Amazon and eBay, that waste nearly the same amount of your employees’ attention as Facebook and Instagram do. Streaming websites follow closely.

And then there’s a whole array of websites that you’d never expect employees to visit during work hours, yet they do — dating, gambling, mature, and other non-secure sites.

Very few of the websites we mention can have any positive influence on employee productivity, most are best left blocked, and the data supports that claim.

What Did the Data Show?

The numbers aren’t lying — blocking the types of websites we mentioned increased the overall productivity in the workplace. A study done by Spiceworks is just one of the sources that confirm this. 

Let’s start with social media as the main culprit of subpar productivity. 

With no restrictions whatsoever, 41% of employees will spend up to 4 hours per week on non-work-related websites. If you think that’s a lot, you’ll be shocked to find that 58% of employees spend more than 4 hours (9% of whom waste more than a whopping 10 hours per week) on irrelevant content.

That leaves just 1% of employees focusing on only work-related websites, which is staggering.

When companies decide to apply restrictions on social media specifically, here’s what happens: the percentage of people who spend more than 4 hours on non-work-related sites drops from 58% to 30%. The number of those who spend less than 4 hours on such sites increases to 64%, and the number of employees that remain solely focused on work-related content increases to 6%.

It’s pretty clear that blocking social networks reduces the time employees spend on unrelated activities while working. The results are more than impressive and prove beyond doubt that social media are the main cause of reduced productivity.

Now let’s move on from blocking social media sites to blocking other websites. Organizations that don’t target social networks specifically, but do restrict one or more popular websites have had different results.

The number of employees who spend a lot of time on other sites (so, more than 4 hours per week) goes down from 58% to 43%. 54% of employees begin to spend less than 4 hours on other sites (up from 41%), and the remaining 3% visit only work-related sites.

Here too, we see that restricting some of the most visited websites increases productivity by reducing the number of hours employees would usually spend there. It’s not as efficient as blocking social media altogether, but a combined approach would possibly increase productivity even further.

To sum up the results, website filtering does show significant improvement to employee productivity. The number of hours wasted on frivolous activities goes down, creating more time for crucial, work-related tasks.

Restricting Internet Access? A Step too Far

Companies that have tried restricting internet access altogether have (unsurprisingly) had miserable results. The employee morale went down, people were miserable, and the trust between the company and the employees was irreparably damaged.

Just like leaving all of the websites accessible is a poor solution, so is fully blocking the internet. The goal is to find the middle ground, the balance between efficiency and enjoyment. That way, you’ll see both high productivity and good morale.

To that end, there’s no better solution than software that provides browser control. Even better if that piece of software allows you to block content based on category, making it extremely easy to get rid of the worst offenders.

So long as you’re flexible in what you filter and what you leave open to your employees, they’ll remain happy and productive. Give them enough breathing space to rest and enjoy the content that they love, and they’ll be back to work in no time.

Cut all of their favorite websites out, and you risk discontent. That’s when employees begin to spend more time looking for a way around your block rather than doing work. It’s up to you to strike the perfect balance.

Music — A Noteworthy Exception

While streaming videos at the workplace can be fairly considered a poor use of time, listening to music is a whole different story.

Numerous articles and researches have found that listening to music while working is an excellent source of inspiration and a productivity boost. It would be a shame to deny your employees access to music streaming websites and counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve.

It’s an excellent place to start in your search for balance.

To Conclude

Have no doubt about it — increasing productivity by blocking certain websites is no myth.

Today, we have enough access to factual data to show that some websites are indeed major timesinks. By blocking those sites off, you commit to improving the productivity within your organization.

Make sure there’s enough leeway to keep your employees entertained, though. With proper balance, productivity will go up, employee morale won’t go down, and your business will continue to grow.

Categories: Tech